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Bamboo Flooring Buying Guide Basics

Before purchasing bamboo floor materials and hiring a professional installer, FindAnyFloor.com® recommends you first learn the basics of bamboo flooring. Important information outlined in this section will help you determine whether bamboo is right for your home based upon factors such as your environment and lifestyle. Also included are flooring suggestions for different household areas, the Janka Hardness Scale and tips on how to properly care for your bamboo floors. Our Buying Guide provides the information to help you make a more informed decision when considering bamboo flooring.

Other sections in this bamboo buying guide explore subjects such as; bamboo pricing, where to buy your new bamboo floor, hiring a professional installer or installing the floor yourself. Use the bamboo sections box at the right to navigate your way through this buying guide. If you have any questions, click on the Chat Live icon and get connected to one of our bamboo flooring pros.


Janka Hardness Scale

We refer to the Janka Hardness Scale (or Janka rating) frequently throughout our guide; therefore it's important that you understand what this means and how it pertains to bamboo. The Janka rating indicates the durability and hardness of a particular wood type by measuring the amount of force required to embed a .444–inch ball halfway in the wood's surface. The more force required per square inch (the higher the Janka rating), the stronger the wood. The results are a good indication of how the floor might hold up under normal wear. Even though bamboo is a grass and not a wood, the Janka Hardness scales is still used to measure the hardness of bamboo.

Janka charts typically begin with the hardest types of wood and end with the softest. You may notice that all other wood types are most commonly compared to Red Oak, a medium density wood. Depending on whether you have children, pets, or a disability, you may need a bamboo floor type that can withstand more than the normal wear and tear. Strand–woven bamboo flooring rates very high on the Janka Hardness Scale and is comparable to many of the strongest hardwoods.

Your Home Environment

It's important to take your environment and climate into consideration when choosing bamboo flooring. Exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity can negatively affect your bamboo floor's overall performance. Use the following tips to minimize the effects that climate has on your bamboo floor.

Humidity and Temperature

Bamboo flooring is made using layers of bamboo; a grass comprised of densely–concentrated cellulose fibers. Since bamboo flooring is sourced almost entirely from naturally water–retentive materials, extreme high or low levels of humidity can cause the floor to shift over time. In high humidity, bamboo can expand, cup, or distort. In low humidity it can shrink, crack or even split. Some types of bamboo can hold up better than others under these conditions. To learn more visit the "Types" section in this guide.

Recommendation: The recommended humidity level for bamboo flooring is 35%–60%. For those living in extreme climates (very high or low humidity) certain precautions should be taken before installing your bamboo floor. To help prevent warping or shifting of your bamboo flooring due to humidity levels outside the normal range, use a humidifier (for low humidity or dry climates) or a dehumidifier (for high humidity. A humidifier releases moisture into the air and can prevent cracking, while a dehumidifier helps absorb excessive moisture in the air.

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Sunlight

Bamboo flooring, like hardwood, is made from natural materials which can fade and discolor if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Analyze the rooms where you want to install bamboo flooring and note the amount of sunlight each room typically receives over the course of a day. This way you know what preventative measures you need to take before and after the bamboo floor is installed.

Recommendations: In order to reduce sunlight exposure, cover windows with curtains, blinds and/or external solar screens. Depending on how often you leave your door open, you may want to consider installing a screen door that can block out early morning and afternoon rays. While these tactics can help minimize your floor's exposure to light, it may not be enough to keep sunlight from reaching your bamboo surface. If possible, you can rearrange your furniture and rugs from time to time to help keep the tone and color of the floor even.

Traffic

Harder types of bamboo flooring, such as strand woven, work well in high–traffic areas. To increase your floor's resistance to dropped objects or other possible accidents, choose a bamboo floor type with a high Janka rating.

Recommendation: Take note of high–traffic areas in your home. If you're concerned about floor damage due to excessive wear and tear, you can place a few non–slip rugs on the bamboo floor to protect these areas. When choosing an area rug for your bamboo floors, make certain that the rug is made so that the floor can breathe. Do not use rugs with rubber or vinyl backing as these can retain moisture and cause damage to the floor.

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Room–by–Room Practicality

Bamboo may look good in almost any room. However, this doesn't mean it's a good idea to install bamboo throughout your entire house. Read our room recommendations for bamboo flooring installation to determine what is best for your home.

General Rooms

Living Room/ Bedroom/ Office/ Den

Bamboo flooring is durable and can withstand general wear and tear that occurs in these areas. If you are concerned with heavy traffic, consider choosing a bamboo floor that has a higher Janka rating such as strand woven. Strand woven (compressed) bamboo flooring is harder than many wood types and typically ranks between 2800–3000 on the Janka Hardness Scale. (This is more than double the hardness of Red Oak, which has a 1290 Janka rating.)

Recommendation: Bamboo flooring finishes that contain scratch resistant additives such as aluminum oxide and ceramic, can not only help to protect your floor, but also help maintain its beauty. You should further safeguard your bamboo floors from scratches by putting rubber/felt furniture feet protectors. Always lift furniture or other objects when moving and never slide across the floor. Spiked heels always should be removed before walking on bamboo as they will dent the flooring.

Wet Area Rooms

Bathroom/ Kitchen/Basement

Bamboo flooring is vulnerable to water and excessive moisture. Caution should be used when installing bamboo in a bathroom, kitchen or other "wet" areas. Some manufacturers do not warranty bamboo flooring when installed in these areas. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations before beginning installation. If flooring is installed in any of these areas, the proper moisture protection underlayment should be installed.

Recommendation: Consult a flooring retailer and/or professional installer. These areas should be visually inspected and evaluated by a professional before proceeding with an installation.

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Lifestyle Elements

While you may feel it's important to choose a floor which accentuates the natural charm of your home, it's actually more important to choose flooring which best compliments your lifestyle.

Pets: Bamboo may get scratched with exposure to sharp or long claws. Preventative measures are recommended as damage incurred by pets is not generally covered under warranty.

Recommendation: Before purchasing bamboo floors for your home, ask a professional flooring installer or retailer for their suggestions regarding pets. There are top coats that can be applied to your floor to minimize the appearance of scrapes but these are very costly. The easiest way to safeguard your bamboo floor from possible pet damage is to clean up pet accidents immediately and keep your pet's nails trimmed. Keep in mind multiple pets and large pets have more potential to inflict damage to the flooring surface.

Children

Bamboo flooring holds up well against the curious and playful nature of children. Nevertheless, liquids can stain bamboo if not wiped up promptly and denting can occur from dropped objects. Monitoring spills as well as the types of toys children play with while on a bamboo floor can help reduce damage.

Recommendation: Place rugs in spots where children most commonly play. This will make those areas more comfortable and kid–friendly while still protecting your bamboo floors. Make sure that any area rugs and floor mats you use are non–rubber backed so that the floor can breathe. Minimize scuffing and scratching by removing shoes (Dirt and debris that stick to shoes can scratch the surface). Grease spots (such as from crayons) and stains can be removed from the surface with special cleaners from your local floor covering retailer.

Noise insulation

Like most hard flooring surfaces, bamboo floors can amplify sound such as footsteps and music, especially when installed on stairs and upper levels. Installing a sound underlayment can help reduce sound transmission in your home. There are two types of ratings that measure the insulation properties of certain materials: (1) Impact Insulation Class (IIC) which measures the response of material upon contact with footsteps and dropped objects, and (2) Sound Transmission Class (STC) that measures a material's response to airborne noise such as music. When purchasing an underlayment for sound, look for either of these ratings.

Recommendation: Cork is a popular choice for underlayment and sound–proofing because of its density and absorbency. Ask your flooring professional if they recommend an engineered floating installation for upper levels, as this may also help to reduce the level of noise in your home.

Mobility Assistance

While bamboo flooring offers a smooth surface, bamboo floors can still be dented. Strand woven (or compressed) bamboo flooring is the hardest type of bamboo flooring, and is difficult to dent. This makes it a great option for those using a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility assistance device.

Recommendation: Besides purchasing a harder bamboo floor product such as strand woven, those using mobility aides such as canes or crutches, should avoid high gloss finishes. These finishes can be slippery and hard to gain traction. A finish with an "orange peel" effect will make moving around with a mobility device much easier.

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Basic Care

Bamboo flooring requires routine maintenance in order to keep a clean and new–looking surface. Refer to our basic care guide when cleaning your bamboo floors.

DOs

  • DO use floor cleaners recommended by the manufacturer or flooring professional.
  • DO repair your hardwood floors according to your manufacturer's recommendations.
  • DO follow the directions closely on all bamboo floor cleaning products.
  • DO use soft cleaning tools such as dry mops and brooms.
  • DO shake area rugs outside and then vacuum to remove gathered dirt and debris.
  • DO use a soft damp cloth to remove sticky areas on surface.
  • DO sweep and dust your bamboo floor often.
  • DO place rugs in areas that receive a high level of traffic.
  • DO place floor door mats at entryways.
  • DO purchase a floor–cleaning kit specific to your floor's finish.
  • DO put rubber/felt floor protectors underneath chair legs, TV stands, and other furniture.
  • DO use non–slip mats in high traffic areas and potentially wet areas.

DON'Ts

  • DON'T use abrasive cleaning tools such as scouring pads or steel wool.
  • DON'T use a vacuum with a beater bar.
  • DON'T wax your bamboo floors.
  • DON'T let dirt, grime and sand build up.
  • DON'T expose your bamboo floors to excessive amounts of water (even when mopping).
  • DON'T use generic cleaning products that could harm your floor's finish.
  • DON'T use rough cleaners that contain acrylic, ammonia, corrosive chemicals or strong detergent.

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